Monday, February 28, 2005

Applele hiSpeaker


I may have linked to this guy before. What an artist! Isn't it amazing what some people can make with a keyboard and a mouse. If I was Steve and he worked for me I'd say, "Yeah, we'll do that, and that, and that. Keep it coming!"

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Times, and Tastes Change

Back in the days of Windows 3.X I'd try various applications—either at work on other people's machines—or downloaded from magazine disks.

Try before you buy.

One of the, "Mmm, I could use this," criteria was: "How many toolbars does it have?" Having lots of toolbars up made everything look more professional; and often helped to justify the cost of some of the more elaborate programs. Word 6 was particularly good for this. You could turn on so many toolbars that there was hardly any real estate left for the document!

But time and tastes change. Recently I decided to change my computer—and at the same time I decided to change OS's from Windows to Mac. I decided to take advantage of that tipping point by also changing some of my computer usage habits.

Instead of being app-centric in my thinking, I chose to be task-centric; I'll explain what I mean. Under Windows I'd launch an app and do several things with that app, and then close it and move onto something else—it never really occurred to me to leave it up.

For some oh-so-subtle reason, on the Mac it just seems like the most natural thing in the world to leave an app Running All the Time and when I'm not currently using it—either close or hide the current window and bring the next thing into focus.

But what has this got to do with toolbars? Well, for some other oh-so-subtle reason, on the Mac I find myself staying on the keyboard far more and taking advantage of the keyboard shortcuts to do things I'd otherwise do with a click on a toolbar. It helps that once learned, these shortcuts are generally applicable no matter which application I'm in.

Ergo no need for the toolbars so out they go. The 90's it was more is good—the 00's it's less is good. Suddenly the iPod makes more sense aesthetics-wise.

Must get job to pay for all this...

Sonos Multi Zone Digital Music System

Sonos Multi Zone Digital Music System

I don't know yet if it's any good—it sure is expensive—but it looks good and their site looks great! Check out Walt's review...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Mmm. Lucite...

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Mac mini — Eureka, I Scream

When the Mac mini was introduced and the handful of stock images were making the rounds—something was nagging at me: Where had I seen this thing before?

And here's the answer...

I know—I have terrible taste in ice cream; what can I say? It was on special! Never mind that though. I was in an Apple Store today and saw my first "actual" mini, and that nagging feeling of I've seen this before came back. Then tonight I was doing the recycling and—Eureka—the connection was made.

Now none of this may be relevant in the US, but here in New Zealand all 2 liter packs of ice cream come this way. I even measured it: six and one half inches square.

From sunflower to ice cream carton—those guys...

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Alien Reports Back...

If there's one thing that the whole planet shares...

It's these things. They... Are... EVERYWHERE!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Aston Martin (

Nothing profound to post today—Except to say,

"Wow! What a Car!"

Monday, February 14, 2005

Mac Mini Fan Noise...

Russell Beattie Notebook - Mac Mini Fan Noise

Yes, it's true. According to this post from Russell Beattie, the normally quiet Mac mini spools up its fan—not based on the temperature—but on the expected demands of the web page it's visiting or the app that it's running. Apple have posted fixes before when Powerbooks have revved up unnecessarily; let's hope they address this issue with the mini.

Sounds most annoying.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

(Almost) a Month with an eMac

After three weeks it was time I fired up the old PC to see if there was anything I'd forgotten to transfer over. There were about 500 megs of video and music files that I decided to snatch.

I don't know why, but the CD burner on the PC decided not to cooperate, so I used the card reader and an SD card instead. It took forever to get the files into the card (using USB 1.1) and only about a tenth of the time to get it off, using USB 2.0.

I started to delete the files from the card using the Mac but that was taking a long time so I cancelled that and waited until the card was back in the Pocket PC and did it there. I suspect that the Mac was building a trash can on the card and moving the files there. I don't know, I could be wrong. I have seen new strange looking files on the card before after it's been looked at by the Mac.

So now my new rule is to drop files to and from the card and PDA, but tidying up chores are more easily handled from the PDA. I'm sure that if Apple swallowed hard and developed their own PDA this would be all the more elegant. Stranger things have happened.

The only clumsiness I experienced going back to the PC was closing Windows. I'd gotten so used to the left-handed Mac that I kept single clicking top left which would just bring up a window control menu in Windows.

Getting back to the Mac, I'm getting more and more used to file management. I really missed the two-pane tree and files layout of Windows until I caught onto populating the favorites pane in Finder with all my usual folders.

Two things are particularly elegant about this system: One is that no matter how many items are in the left hand pane — they resize beautifully in order to fit within the chosen size of window (within reason). The other is the spring-loaded folders system. I never get tired of how cool, and convenient, it is to drag a downloaded file from the desktop onto the hard drive and have the window snap open—wait until I drop the file onto a destination—then snap shut again. No biggie; but big enough to be super-useful.

So I'm whittling away at some minor post-switch frustrations. My current one is making dialog box choices using only the keyboard.

Duh! I only just this minute realized that you tab to the option you want then press the spacebar.

New Task:

  • Find a keyboard shortcut FAQ and laminate it...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Flying Magazine

Flying Magazine

If like me, you're into flying, it's worth checking back with this site every month as they post some really first-rate columns and articles. Another great aviation site is Avweb.

Pseudo Pseudo

I saw a funny thing on my morning walk today. I don't know if this is an example of irony or not. Irony is such a hard thing to pin down. Anyway, when I saw this, I definitely thought, "How ironic!"

So picture the scene. You're attempting to build a children's swing. You can't afford a brightly colored custom made plastic seat for your swing so you fashion one from an old tire. People have been doing it that way forever. You either hang the tire vertically from one point or horizontally from three or four points.

So what do I see today at the local children's park? A brand new fluorescent plastic factory-made swing seat that's exactly in the shape of an old tire.

Kind of reminds me of something...

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Canon Digital Rebel 300D Hack

Canon Digital Rebel 300D Hack - The Digital Photography Weblog

Isn't this the coolest bonus ever? It's a funny old world — manufacturing-wise — when it's cheaper to include something and hide it, than it is to leave it out...

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Gigapxl Project

Gigapxl Project

It began with a seemingly simple question. As a designer and builder of cameras, what could one do that has not been done before? The question came on the heels of an earlier project which involved the design and construction of an astrocamera having a resolution of 0.01 millimeter across photographic plates that are 356 millimeters square. Recognizing this to be the equivalent of 1250-megapixel imagery prompted the question of whether or not anything comparable had been achieved in the context of landscape photography. Some back-of-the-envelope calculations concerning the performance of conventional large-format cameras indicated that it had not. Thus began a quest which has become ever more fascinating; namely the pursuit of full-color panoramic landscapes which contain prodigious amounts of information. Early on, the goal was set at 1,000 megapixels. However, as technology has advanced, the bar has been raised to 4,000 megapixels; a figure that we expect to reach within the next several months. At this level, a real-world 90-degree panorama would need to be searched with 12X tripod-mounted binoculars before one could hope to accumulate an equivalent amount of information. Unsurprisingly, a host of problems have been encountered along the way. But the results have been spectacular. And so, the fascination continues.

Monday, February 07, 2005

iPod eBooks Creator

iPod eBooks Creator - convert books (text files) into notes on iPod, notes e-books Apple iPod notes, plain text files conversion to notes Apple iPod txt

Well, I've decided it's only a matter of time before I succumb, so here's a possibly handy addon. What we need right now is an iPod emulator to try this stuff out...

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Bill Gates: Genius?

It's a slow connection day today, so I'll write instead of read. What's with this legend that states that Bill Gates is some kind of genius? I know that he's disgustingly rich — so he obviously has some business savvy — but to hear him talk...

Last week he was being interviewed on the BBC's Click Online. The questions were the usual ones you hear when someone is interviewing the world's richest dweeb; only slightly challenging so you'll stay on the list. You know the drill. What struck me was that I'd seen Bill Gates interviews before — dozens of them over decades, and nothing about what he has to say has changed at all.

He doesn't really answer questions at all; he has a set of about ten statements that he's learned by rote. When he's asked a question he chooses one of the statements as a reply. When it's a question he's never heard before: he looks slightly pissed off, pouts, then he once again chooses one of the ten statements as a reply.

The statements go along the lines of: "I'm glad you asked me that. At Microsoft we're having a lot of fun coming up with new ways to satisfy the changing needs of our customers, and it's a really exciting time we're living in right now — blah blah blah..."

Does he ever say anything that makes you sit up straight? Anything that makes you think, or cringe, or laugh; or even just say, "Ah hah!"

Steve Jobs is a natural. Larry Ellison is a loose cannon. Both of them are obviously bright sparks. I don't see any sparks coming from Bill Gates; to me, he's more in the mold of George W. Bush — a heavily coached buffoon. Only pure power drives his mystique, and celebrity. So what's the origin of that power. Is that power the result of genius, or the wildest stroke of luck...

Friday, February 04, 2005

Strange, but Sadly True

According to a local newspaper, numerous complaints were received after a Fear Factor themed day of activities was held for local children — bored with their summer break. It transpires that offal was used to liven things up; during the relay race, chicken necks were used instead of batons, and fondling animal guts was one of the How Squeamish are You challenges.

The organizers said they didn't expect any negative reaction — they had prepared by researching whether any of the animals used were sacred to any of the ethnic groups participating, and besides, they had a clearly marked chill-out corner prepared for any children who took offense.

This is like some kind of Curb Your Enthusiasm episode (maybe I should pitch it?) The thing that made me laugh out loud was the idea of a chill-out corner. I could just imagine a group of lesbian activity organizers armed with clipboards and ring-binders, standing in an empty field and deciding, "The chill-out corner can go over there, under the trees..."

The Ugliness is Behind Us


From HP — the company with no apparent design coherence at all — an upcoming PDA phone that's totally inoffensive (if you're into that whole Treo slash Blackberry kind of thing)...

eMac — Two Weeks In

Two weeks into eMac ownership and the sheen has worn off.

Well, no. I'm lying.

I'm still getting a kick out of using it, and discovering new features all the time; like how I can plug my PowerShot camera straight in without installing any additional software, and like how I can use the Summarize feature of TextEdit to strip all of the white space out of a pasted web article.

Two weeks in, and I'm still blown away by the quality of the display. This is the first computer I've used where Times New Roman-style fonts actually look good on the screen.

Okay — it's not a complete love-fest; there are one or two minor issues I'd like to resolve:

  • I really appreciate how it only takes three seconds to sleep it and three seconds to wake it up, only every time it wakes the screen contrast is high and I then need to tap either F14 or F15 to have it remember how it was.
  • In IE6 I could easily look in the Temporary Internet Files folder and copy out any SWF or MOV files I might want to keep — I wouldn't have the faintest idea where Safari keeps its cache.
  • IE also had a feature where you hit F11 and it's full-screen; so did Outlook and Explorer. I really miss that.
  • Lastly, I cannot find a way to go on and offline (yes, I'm one of the few still using dialup) without using the mouse.

Minor issues like I said; they're not deal-breakers, just open items for now.

It's still early days...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Mac mini Quote of the Day...

Technology Insider (

So is the mini a maxi value?  For me, clearly, no.  When I consider that a good deal of my time is spent running applications like Disk Defragmenter, Scandisk, Norton AV, Windows Update and Ad-Aware--none of which are available for the Mac platform--it doesn't make sense for me to "switch" to a Mac at this time.

Phone that's a camera, or camera that's a phone?

Korean Biz/Tech

Either way it's pretty gosh-darned cool. Is Korea the new Japan?

Pantech & Curitel will introduce the camcorder-like PH-L4000V mobile phone this February. Powered with a 2.1 million pixel camera, flash and optical zoom, the product can record camcorder-quality pictures and video clips. The unique design has eared the company an iF Design Award, the biggest design award in Europe.